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What Business & Military Leaders SHOULD Have in Common

The Art of War

Think About It

Most business people see business as being something like a war.  One of the books most business leaders read is The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.   

It is a great collection of fundamental leadership guidelines, but military leaders, just like their business counterpart, need specific planning. 

Both leaders need a planning process – a physical pattern of operation based on a defined set of objectives. The military concept SMEAC, or the Five Paragraph Order, an organizational concept I learned in the U.S. Marine Corps, – can be modified to a physical pattern of operation not only used by military personnel but by business leaders from Yoga teachers to non-profit organizations (many of whom are former military leaders).

Planning Process

  1. O – Orientation – Executive Summary/Brief Description of “The Terrain” You will Operate. 
  2. S – Situation – What is the Business Competitive environment?
  3. M – Mission – What are you trying to accomplish? 
  4. E – Execution – How will you go about the Mission?
  5. A - Administration & Logistics – What resources – people, supplies, etc. – will be needed?
  6. C –Communication (Command & Signal) – Who is in charge plus succession planning.  Also, how will the team communicate up and down?
Planning Session

Every business does SOME planning, but having a rigorous and all-encompassing model makes the chances of success MUCH higher.   However, plans are only as good as their execution.  

The Plan defines “What,” and sometimes even “Who” and “How,” but there needs to be an operational and accountability process for ensuring that it is carried out efficiently.  Once again, the U.S. Marine Corps has a method to prepare and execute a mission a.k.a. Project management, called B.A.M.C.I.S...


  1. B - Begin Planning – Starts with the objective, as defined by the leader, and includes situation, mission, and operating parameters.
  2. A - Arrange for Reconnaissance and Coordination – Determine what information is needed as agreed to by stakeholders. 
  3. M - Make Reconnaissance – Gather the actual data through research and begin analysis.
  4. C - Complete the Plan – Make sure all needed elements are in hand to move forward.
  5. I - Issue the Order – Give the go-ahead to start the mission.
  6. S – Supervise the Activity – Based on agreement and trust. You monitor the process, gather feedback, make adjustments as necessary. It is the most important step.

The purpose of BAMCIS is to ensure that EVERYBODY knows the expectations for the effort, their role in executing it, how to give and get further information and how to monitor what happens.

Why is having this process defined and executed a critical element?

Research Process

First, because having a data-driven process provides the greatest opportunity for business success.  There is a real need for “reconnaissance” - research on the marketplace, competitors, customers, and prospects, etc.  Having that data allows both plan and execution to be tailored to achieve the best results.

There is also the question of accountability.  If everyone knows their role, then any issues during execution can be remedied or tasks and timing can be revised to avoid problems.  Additional training/education and closer supervision can be put in place to help any associates who are not performing well to move up to the required level before reassignment. Thorough training will build confidence, improve the ability to accomplish tasks and enhance the potential for success.

Building a Better Business requires communication as well adherence to the overall plan.  Things happen, in warfare and business, but promptly identifying issues can be analyzed and solutions can be put in place to enhance the outcome of any effort.

In my military career with the Marines as well as running multiple ultramarathons, I have come to regard SMEAC and BAMCIS as critical to having the highest level of performance possible.   A significant part of our work is to teach and coach clients in understanding and following a process that will lead to better outcomes for them as well as their business.

In other blogs, specific areas like Data/Intelligence gathering, Metrics, and Customer Retention will be discussed.

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Photo by João Silas on

Download RCS: Newsletter for October 2017